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Wake Forest scientists find new combination vaccine effective against plague

r a federal bioterrorism initiative. "The development of a vaccine against the pneumonic or respiratory form of plague is a major goal of the bio-defense initiative," he said.

The research program involves six other medical school scientists and a secure biosafety laboratory at Virginia Tech that is certified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FBI to work with dangerous pathogens. Mizel said the actual challenges of vaccines against plague are occurring in that safe laboratory in Blacksburg, Va., and not in Winston-Salem.

Flagellin is taken from bacterial flagella, whiplike appendages that are used by bacteria to move around their environment. Thus it is possible for animals that have been exposed to a different bacterial infection to have antibodies against flagellin. But Mizel and his colleagues found that flagellin is equally effective in animals with such antibodies as it is in mice that had never encountered flagellin before.

"Prior immunity to flagellin does not impair its ability to function as an adjuvant," Mizel said. "This means that flagellin can be used multiple times with different types of vaccines. The new plague vaccine also has the advantage of not requiring a needle since only a few drops in the nose provide protection."

In view of the exciting results with the plague vaccine, Mizel plans to determine if immunized monkeys are protected against the plague. If they are then efforts will be initiated to begin studies in humans.


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Source:Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center


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